New Year’s Day Address
January 1, 2017
Reverend Shogu Kimura
I wish you a Happy New Year in “The Year to do Shakubuku, Develop Your Faith, and Help Others Develop Their Faith and Practice.”
Our Sixty-Eighth High Priest Nichinyo Shonin and the Honorable Retired Sixty-Seventh High Priest Nikken Shonin have welcomed the new year in good health and high spirits. We, as priests and lay believers, whole-heartedly express our joy and appreciation to them for extending their compassion, instructions, and directions to us.
I have just completed the New Year’s Gongyo Ceremony and have offered my sincere prayers for you, in the year ahead, for your ever-increasing success in your activities, for you to redouble your faith, for you to enjoy a long and healthy life, for peace and harmony to reign in your homes, for the Law to be successfully passed to your progeny, for you to achieve your shakubuku goals, and for all your prayers to come true.
As you know, we, the priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu are currently in the midst of making great advancements towards the establishment of a Hokkeko organization of 800,000 believers by 2021, the 800th anniversary of the birth of our founder Nichiren Daishonin.
“Today’s Shodai Creates Tomorrow’s Shakubuku.” This is the guideline established by the Myoshin-ji Hokkeko members for the Myoshin-ji believers. Ever since 2014, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Myoshin-ji Temple, we have thoroughly upheld our faith and practice for ourselves and for others, based on this guideline. Last year, we were able to achieve 93 shakubuku and brilliantly welcome the New Year – 2017. I am convinced that this success is completely based on the protection of the Gohonzon, the great compassion of the High Priest Nichinyo Shonin, and the powerful daily practice of each and every one of us.
Shakubuku is an act of compassion. The definition of compassion is to remove suffering and replace it with happiness (bakku yoraku). In other words, we must save all people from the tremendous suffering that they are experiencing and pray for their happiness – not only for our own individual joy. Herein lies the true significance of doing shakubuku.
I sincerely pray that you will proceed forth to propagate true Buddhism, based on your joy for having been born into this world and on the great benefits you have received from your faith and practice. I ask you all to advance with devotion to achieve the designated objective, according to the directions received today from the High Priest and the guidance from the Overseas Director Reverend Urushibata.
This year, we have once again received the practical points for our actual practice. They are:
- To dedicate ourselves to the accomplishment of our shakubuku goals by conducting Gongyo and Shodai consistently;
- To foster the new believers and develop our faith and practice through attending the OkoCeremony; and
- To encourage each other to make a tozan pilgrimage together.
Of these, the first point – to dedicate ourselves to the accomplishment of our shakubuku goals by conducting Gongyo and Shodai – represents the fundamental basis of achieving success in our designated objective. This will be the essential driving force that will enable us to act upon the other two points.
Let us first perform solid Gongyo, Shodai, and shakubuku. Based on the benefits from doing so, we can come together to the temple and, furthermore, share the joy of going together on a tozan pilgrimage.
How great are the benefits of doing Shodai? In addressing this, the High Priest made reference to the following passage from the gosho, “On the Eighteen Perfections” (Juhachi enman sho):
When one upholds strong faith and practice and sincerely chants Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, without any distractions, his body, as a common mortal, will be transformed into the entity of the Buddha. This is known as the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form (sokushin jobutsu), based on the principle of the achievement of individual enlightenment through one’s natural, unadorned self (ten shin doku ro).
(Gosho, p. 1518)
The High Priest stated:
In the true Buddhism of the Daishonin, the attainment of Buddhahood in one’s present form (sokushin jobutsu), based on the principle of the achievement of individual enlightenment through one’s natural, unadorned self (ten shin doku ro), means that, when people embrace the Gohonzon of the Three Great Secret Laws, chant the Daimoku of Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, and assiduously perform the practice for oneself and for others, they can directly become Buddhas without having to transform their existence as common mortals. In other words, this signifies that they are able to attain enlightenment in their present form (sokushin jobutsu).
(Dai-Nichiren, No. 846, p. 53)
The High Priest explains to us that our bodies can directly become the entities of the Buddha, when we sincerely chant Daimoku to the Gohonzon enshrined before us today.
In our world, there are still many, many people who are yet unaware of this truly tremendous Law. They live their lives, unable to achieve true happiness, as they constantly pursue shallow, superficial pleasures. There are individuals who do not know how to overcome suffering, and there are others who are not even aware that what they are experiencing is true suffering.
When we look around us today at our deluded and confused world, we can see that our mission as priests and lay believers of Nichiren Shoshu is extremely critical. We can keenly understand how we have come upon an extremely significant time to do shakubuku, in order to lead people to true world peace.
When the true Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin permeates the entire world and when Daimoku echoes throughout it, all the guardian deities will rejoice and the hearts of people will become honest and pure.
I sincerely pray that, throughout this year, you will all maintain good physical health, based on the great benefits and the supreme happiness of the Mystic Law, and advance forth with devotion to propagate true Buddhism.
I would like to conclude my address for today by praying from the bottom of my heart for your continued good health and for your ever-increasing achievements in your life.Thank you very much for your attendance today.